I just flew East to visit a Vedic scholar from Vrindavan, India who is teaching a summer session at Rutgers. He’s a friend, and I asked him how he found the United States on this visit compared to his previous visits.
“Stressed,” he said. “The whole country is stressed. My students are all stressed. Everyone watches the news and is stressed. But why should you all be stressed? America has plenty of land and very few people and enough resources to grow its own food. What have you really lost?”
What have we lost? On the airplane back from New Jersey to San Francisco I listened to the latest podcast of Bill Moyers’ Journal. In it, two very knowledgeable experts, a health journalist and a physician, agree that Obama might not get a health care reform bill passed into law, but that even if he does get a piece of legislation out of all this political wrangling and lobbying, it won’t do any good, because the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry will have gutted it with their constellations of lobbyists. He will have gone down to inevitable defeat trying to preserve his political future rather than his ethical priorities.
The details of how much is being spent to make sure health care remains a for-profit industry without cost-cutting or patient care incentives are mind-boggling. The Sunlight Foundation is looking into this. No one even knows what’s in “Obama’s plan,” but they are all positioning themselves to make sure nothing is left in it when it passes.
Right now, the bills going through Congress mandate health insurance, but don’t regulate what an insurance company can charge for it or what the insurance has to cover. So we will have to buy it, and either it will have a $20,000 deductible or we won’t be able to afford the premiums. Is that reform? And how will that control costs? Where’s the delivery system reform that’s supposed to cover unnecessary and ineffective care?
When Bill Moyers asked these women if they think we should start all over again, both of them gulped. I had the feeling they wanted to say yes, but they were afraid that waiting wouldn’t do any good.